You can file a contested divorce in Illinois yourself if you cannot afford an attorney or do not want to wait. A contested divorce is a divorce that both spouses do not agree on, or a case with major issues the parties cannot settle themselves (Reference 1). Contested issues include child custody, spousal or child support, and property divisions. The county circuit court system handles contested divorces in Illinois, and you must file the initial paperwork to start the case.
Select the legal reason for the divorce. Adultery, physical or mental cruelty, alienation of affection, your infection with a sexually transmitted disease by the other spouse, or the felony conviction of the other spouse are all acceptable grounds for divorce in Illinois. Drug and alcohol abuse must be present for two years prior to filing. Use irreconcilable differences if the other grounds do not apply, but you must live apart from your spouse for two years first.
Gather proof of the Illinois divorce grounds. Include documents and personal correspondence that support the divorce. Store the items in a safe place. You will need the proof for the trial.
Locate the county circuit court with jurisdiction over the county in which you live. Visit the official website of the Illinois court system to find contact information for county circuit courts.
Visit the clerk of the circuit court's office. Request the packet for a contested divorce. Ask for instructions and the fee schedule if not included in the packet.
Complete the forms in the packet. Contested divorces must have the Domestic Relations Division Cover Sheet, Petition and Certificate of Dissolution & Invalidity of Marriage and the Summons. You need various information, including the names, birth dates and addresses of both spouses and any children born of the marriage. Follow the instructions, as the court clerk must complete some form sections. Contact the court clerk if you have questions about specific items on the forms.
Review the fee schedule. Make out a payment method for the filing fee. Check the instructions for acceptable payment methods and to what court the payment must be made.
File the completed forms in the clerk's office of the county circuit court. Pay the filing fees. Some circuit courts allow you to select the first open court date, or you can wait for notice in the mail.